Chapter 1-The Maverick
Chapter 1: The Maverick
Gunfire erupted through the dark alley. Gun muzzles flashing in the dark, followed by the report of the handguns were, in turn, followed by hurried footsteps echoing in puddles.
“Shit!” a man shouted as more gunfire followed him. “Dammit!”
He ran out into the dusk-lit street. His clothes were shredded, blood ran from his hairline, down his face and neck and his tattooed arms had a mixture of blood and dirt caked on them.
“Get him!” another man’s voice followed in the alley.
“I know!” one last man’s voice called back. The two men ran after the first battered one, their suits still clean, their guns still drawn.
“Not this time!” the beaten man snapped back, still running down the street. He rounded down another alley then ducked through a door of the building. The room was pitch black, and he found it slightly comforting, which also worried him a bit. He leaned back on the door, holding his breath so as not to risk being heard. He heard the footsteps of the men run past the door and when they faded completely, he exhaled in relief, sinking to sit on the floor, his hands holding his head.
“That was way too close,” he breathed but jumped when he heard someone clear their throat as if they were trying to draw attention to themselves, making him freeze and look into the darkness. “Who’s there?!”
He cringed back when a light was suddenly shined into his amber eyes. He moved some strands of his short, auburn hair from his face to see where the light was coming from then moved his long, thin ponytail behind him from his shoulder.
“I was about to ask the same thing,” a man’s voice said from behind the light. “Damn. You’re a mess.”
“I’ll ask again: Who are you?” the battered man asked irritably, glaring at the light.
“Don’t get your panties in a bunch,” the unrevealed man chuckled. “The name’s Yukio Hayate. And you, my friend, are in trouble, am I right?”
“Yeah,” the battered man grumbled. “I had a couple of Suits on my tail. Sorry I had to barge in on you like this.”
“No problem,” Yukio replied. “What’s your name, friend?”
“Maverick Fallon,” he replied, wiping the blood from his face. “Mind getting that light outta my face before I go blind?”
“Oh, yeah. Sorry. Lights!”
Yukio lowered the light and Maverick’s attention was drawn to the ceiling where another light came on. He looked in the direction Yukio’s voice had come from and saw a young man with spiked black hair and golden eyes that shone as he smiled at him. He wore a long sleeved, blue shirt, tattered at the collar and at the hem, a pair of tattered jeans and black combat boots.
“Welcome to my pad,” he smiled, presenting his surroundings with open arms. “Nice, huh?”
“For a pad, I guess,” Maverick shrugged. He looked around to see a desk to his right, a bed in front of him where Yukio stood and a small library to his left, next to a door. “Been living here long?”
“A while,” Yukio shrugged back. “How about we get you cleaned up?”
“I’m fine,” Maverick insisted, starting to stand. “It’s just a scratch.” He stood fully and growled loudly in pain at the flare of burning in his ankle. He dropped into a kneeling position, the weight off of the ankle that was in pain as he cursed, “Holy shit!”
“A bit more than a scratch, huh?” Yukio chuckled, helping Maverick up and into the chair at the desk. “Twisted ankle?”
“I guess,” Maverick groaned as he sat. “Hope it’s not broken. It didn’t hurt when I was running.”
“With Suits chasing you, I’m not surprised,” Yukio smirked.
“Yeah,” Maverick groaned again. “Looks like I might have to stay a little longer.”
“That’s alright,” Yukio smiled, reassuringly. “My sister is gonna be happy to have a visitor.”
“Sister?” Maverick frowned in wonder.
“Yeah,” Yukio replied. “Isabella. She lives next door. You’d like her.”
“And why’s that?” Maverick retorted.
“You look like the kind of guy who would like pretty girls,” Yukio shrugged, then grinned, “and Isabella’s pretty.”
“Look, I’m not here looking for a girl, I just wanna get home and keep myself hidden from those goddamn Suits.”
“Alright then,” Yukio shrugged. “But you’ll end up meeting her anyway. She’s coming for dinner and she knows a bit more about medicine than I do.”
“Great,” Maverick muttered, sardonically. “How long is she gonna take getting here?”
“She should be here any minute,” Yukio replied, going to the door past the book shelf. “I’ll be back. I’m gonna get some water and bandages.”
He disappeared through the door and Maverick slumped back in the chair. He suddenly perked up slightly and glanced at the door Yukio had disappeared through. He tried to stand and hurry out the exit but he plopped back down when the front door suddenly opened, a figure in a dark blue cloak with a basket stepping into the room then shutting the door. He stiffened when the figure turned to him and he prepared to completely ignore the pain in his ankle.
“Oh, my god!” the figure gasped in feminine voice. “You look terrible!”
Maverick cocked his head to the side with a frown of confusion. Was this Yukio’s sister? She raised a hand and swept her hood from her head to release her long chocolate brown hair and stared at Maverick with bright golden eyes filled with worry, wearing a gray, tattered dress. He had to admit, Yukio was right…she was absolutely gorgeous. Her cheekbones were high and defined, making her face attractively long, with delicate brows above her wide eyes that were set above a petite nose, her lips below it full and pink, with a perfect cupid’s bow dipping her upper lip.
“I’m Isabella,” she said quickly, rushing toward him and setting the basket on the table next to him. “Are you one of Yukio’s friends?”
“Uh…” It took Maverick a moment to get over her appearance and he finally shook away his shock. “Uh, yeah…sort of.”
“Sort of?” Isabella frowned in wonder.
“It’s, uh, kind of complicated,” he replied and she only nodded in understanding then knelt down next to the chair, taking the hem of her cloak to wipe the blood from his face. Maverick froze when she did this and stared at her in wonder.
“What happened?” she wondered and once again, it took Maverick a moment to register the question.
“I had a run-in with a couple of Suits,” he blurted and Isabella’s eyes widened in shock.
“They did this to you?!” she gasped.
“Actually it was more of my running from them than them actually beating me,” he corrected. “You’re Yukio’s sister? You don’t look like him.”
“Oh,” Isabella smiled, sweetly. “He says I’m his sister, but actually we’re very good friends since childhood. He’s like my brother.”
“Izzy! You made it!” Yukio called from the door. “I see you’ve met Maverick.”
“Yes, and it’s a good thing I brought more food than usual,” Isabella smiled, taking the bowl of water Yukio was holding. She knelt down at Maverick’s feet and Yukio handed her the bandages he was also holding.
“What are you doing?” Maverick asked in wide eyed wonder as Isabella pulled off one of combat boots and he winced in pain when she did.
“You twisted your ankle, right?” Isabella replied and his eyes widened in disbelief as he looked at Yukio.
“She has a sensitive intuition,” he shrugged. “I call it her Sixth Sense.”
“It’s nothing incredible,” Isabella insisted. “I’m just observant.”
“Observant?” Maverick echoed as he turned back to her while she started bandaging his ankle.
“I notice how people hold themselves, body language, what part of the body they seem to be favoring and how they’re favoring it.”
“I’ve told her she should be a nurse,” Yukio chimed in.
“Yukio, I’ve told you, it’s too dangerous,” Isabella explained.
“Why?” Maverick wondered, more interested than he ever thought he’d be. She looked back at him with a look of disbelief, as if he should have known the answer.
“It’s outlawed in this district,” she only replied, continuing to bandage his ankle. “If I were a nurse and healed someone who turned out to be an enemy to the government, it would be classified as aiding and abetting. I would be tried with treason.”
“Gotta love our government,” Maverick scoffed.
“They have nurses working underground,” Yukio explained. “Literally, under ground, but she won’t do that either.”
“That’s just as dangerous,” Isabella replied.
“I wouldn’t wanna go down there either,” Maverick stated and the two looked at him in confusion but he looked back at them with a frown then guessed, “You two haven’t been here that long, have you?”
“What’s so dangerous about being underground?” Yukio wondered sincerely, sitting on the floor next to Isabella.
Maverick leaned a bit closer to whisper to the two wide eyed new comers and whispered, “That’s where the Drones live.”
“Drones?” Isabella echoed and Maverick nodded.
“You ever hear scratching at your door in the middle of the night?” he wondered and the two nodded, mutely. “That’s the Drones. They’re creatures of darkness. They used to be people, but they allowed darkness to take over their minds. They’ve lost all sense of ethics and they attack people without provocation.”
“Why do they scratch at doors?” Yukio asked as Isabella scooted closer to him.
“They have trouble with barriers and doors,” Maverick replied.
“Is there any way they can become human again?” Isabella wondered, but Maverick shook his head.
“Not that anyone knows, but there might be,” he replied.
“How do you know so much about these creatures if everyone’s so afraid of them?” Yukio asked, and Maverick looked at him with wide eyes, filled with panic.
“W-Well, I watch them from time to time…hidden of course, and I’ve lived here for some time,” he replied, hesitantly. Yukio stared at Maverick who shifted his eyes a bit then looked back at the other man to ask, “What?”
“Why would you watch them if they’re dangerous?” Yukio wondered.
Isabella frowned in confusion and glanced between the two then laughed nervously, saying, “To learn how to avoid them, I’m sure, Yukio.” She looked at Maverick and prompted, “Right?”
He stared at her in mild surprise. She came up with that fast, and he couldn’t tell them the truth. He may as well go ahead with that.
“Yeah,” he nodded, looking away as he told himself silently, Sure. We’ll say that.
“Well, then,” Isabella sighed as she stood and placed her hands on her hips, “With that bad ankle, the Suits after you, and Drones out tonight, I don’t think you’ll be making it back to your pad. That is, if you have a pad. Do you?”
“Well…” Maverick trailed off. Another question he couldn’t answer truthfully. He had a place to stay, but… “Yeah.”
Yukio narrowed his eyes at Maverick in suspicion at his hesitation.
“Well, we still can’t let you out tonight,” Isabella continued. “You’ll stay here tonight, and it looks as though I’m staying here tonight, too.”
“If these Drones are as mindless as you say they are, how come we’ve never seen them since we came here?” Yukio questioned.
“Probably because they were watching you,” Maverick replied, calmly. “They’ll examine anything new.”
“Can we stop talking about them, please?” Isabella requested, drawing the men’s attentions. “It’s too…creepy.”
With a dramatic shudder, she grabbed the basket she’d brought and headed to the door Maverick assumed was a kitchen, and the men looked back at each other.
“Ultra sensitive,” Yukio explained and stood to head after Isabella.
Maverick looked down at his ankle then at the door. He could make it home, if he was careful and left now. He had to try.
Carefully slipping on his shoe and shifting his arms to support himself on the chair to stand, he glanced at the kitchen door then the front door. He stood with great difficulty, but silently, and limped toward the door as quietly as he could. He’d have to repay Yukio and Isabella back for their kindness some other time. Reaching the door, he quietly turned the knob and it opened silently as he slid himself out and into the moonlit streets once more.
He hoped they wouldn’t come after him. It was dangerous, but he could take it. He had something those two didn’t. Guts and experience. He knew how to handle Drones and Suits and had to on occasion. It was nothing to him, but the last thing he wanted was to put innocent people like Yukio and Isabella in danger by simply being around.
Shuffling through the damp streets of town he felt like he was being watched. A familiar feeling when he walked down the streets at night. It was a risk he took to know the creatures he already knew too well. Groaning from the pain in his ankle and developing headache, he found a street light left on and sat beneath it. He knew no other Suits would be out now. They’d be crazier than hell to come out after this hour.
He nearly let his head lull back on the wall he was leaning on when he heard faint shuffling beyond the expanse of the light. He straightened and stared his amber eyes into the blackness of night. Glowing yellow eyes stared at him from that blackness and he suddenly forgot the pain in his ankle and head.
Slowly rising to his feet, he stayed in the light, though he knew that wouldn’t save him. These creatures could stand artificial light; it was the sun that nearly killed them. Maverick heard hissing and growling, and he swore there were a few slurps in the sounds that were suddenly all around. He had run into a squad of them. Not a good place to be. Yellow eyes revealed themselves from the darkness, making him feel more and more uneasy. He heard an exceptionally loud snarl from ahead and directed his attention that way. The eyes sunk toward the ground and Maverick braced himself.
Before he saw it pounce, he shot off to the left and the thing landed where he’d been standing. The Drone faced him, giving Maverick a full view of its long, black hair that drug on the dirty ground as the creature leaned on its hands, its boney figure hunched on all fours. The Drone’s razor sharp teeth were bared and stood out beneath black lips which, in turn, stood out from the thing’s ghostly white skin. It scratched black claws against the asphalt of the street and snarled at Maverick as he stared it down.
He wasn’t surprised the other Drones didn’t attack him. As mindless as they were they had their own code. First to attack was the one who would make the kill. The Drone snarled at him again but Maverick only snarled back, unafraid. The other Drones around him hissed but the one who had pounced at him was the one who made a move. It leapt at Maverick who braced his feet in place and the thing landed on him, toppling them to the ground. The Drone clamped its teeth onto Maverick’s left arm as he held it up but Maverick didn’t utter any sound of pain.
“Chew on this, stupid jackass!” he growled.
He swung his arm toward the ground as hard as he could, pinning the Drone between it and his forearm. He swung himself onto the creature, straddling it as he held his arm it had bitten at its throat to choke it. He punched the Drone with his right fist until the thing’s head lulled to one side.
Maverick breathed heavily as he stood and stepped away from the dead Drone, black blood spattered over his face from punching the thing to death. He glared up at the other Drones around him as they only stared at him with their glowing yellow eyes.
“Who’s next?” he challenged, raising his left arm, warningly.
The marks from the dead Drone’s teeth had broken the skin but no blood seeped from the teeth marks.
The Drones only stared at him for a moment as he lowered his arm. No one moved. No one made a sound. It was still for a few moments before Maverick chanced walking forward. The Drones around him moved to make a lane for him to walk down. As he limped past them, he heard growls and snarls then cracks and crunches.
“Yuck,” he blanched, wrinkling his face in disgust. “They eat their own.”
He limped the rest of the way home, glancing over his shoulder the whole way.